Six Cases of Vaping Illness Linked to Legal Weed Vapes Sold in Massachusetts
This is the first time that cases of EVALI have been linked to legally-acquired THC vapes, which raises further questions about the true cause of the mysterious illness.
Published on December 6, 2019

Massachusetts health authorities have linked six cases of vaping-related lung illness to regulated THC vapes legally purchased at state dispensaries. This discovery comes as surprising news, as US health officials now support the theory that EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury) is caused by additives commonly found in black market vape cartridges.

Back in September, Governor Charlie Baker announced a four-month ban on all nicotine and cannabis vaping products in the state. At the time, this decision was met with harsh criticism, due to the fact that most EVALI cases so far were linked to black market vapes, not legal products. Last month, a judge lifted the ban on medical marijuana vapes, but the state's cannabis regulators continue to quarantine all oil-based vapes.

Now, it appears that Gov. Baker's widespread ban on all vapes may not have been such a bad idea after all. A new report by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) reports that five individuals who had been diagnosed with probable cases of EVALI said they used THC vapes purchased at licensed state dispensaries. In a sixth probable case, the individual reported using both legally-acquired nicotine and cannabis vapes.

The report notes that there are currently 30 confirmed cases and 60 probable cases of EVALI in the state. Officials have interviewed 49 of these 90 patients, and found that 35 vaped THC only, 28 vaped nicotine only, and 19 vaped both. Out of all THC vape users, 22 admitted to buying their vapes on the black market, but did not indicate whether they bought these vapes in Massachusetts or from another state.

“I applaud DPH for releasing some initial data here,” said Shaleen Title, member of the state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), in a tweet. “While it seems consistent with national data that the vast majority interviewed did not report using products purchased at a dispensary, it’s concerning that some did report using regulated products... Obviously, some urgent next questions here: What products did they report using/from where? Did they also report using unregulated products?”

The CCC is already working to get to the bottom of this mystery, according to a new statement. “Immediately, the Commission will use this new data toward its ongoing investigation into whether marijuana products manufactured by Massachusetts licensees contain substances or contaminants of concern and thoroughly explore the origin of the products identified by DPH,” the commission wrote, according to MLive.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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